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Overlap and dissociation of semantic processing of Chinese characters English words and pictures: Evidence from fMRI
journal contributionposted on 2023-06-07, 18:27 authored by Michael W L Chee, Brendan Weekes, Kok Ming Lee, Chun Siong Soon, Axel Schreiber, Jia Jia Hoon, Marilyn Chee
The functional anatomy of Chinese character processing was investigated using fMRI. Right-handed Mandarin–English bilingual participants made either semantic or perceptual size judgements with characters and pictures. Areas jointly activated by character and picture semantic tasks compared to size judgement tasks included the left prefrontal region (BA 9, 44, 45), left posterior temporal, left fusiform, and left parietal regions. Character processing produced greater activation than picture processing in the left mid and posterior temporal as well as left prefrontal regions. The lateral occipital regions were more active during picture semantic processing than character semantic processing. A similar pattern of activation and contrasts was observed when English words and pictures were compared in another set of bilingual participants. However, there was less contrast between word and picture semantic processing than between character and picture processing in the left prefrontal region. When character and word semantic processing were compared directly in a third group, the loci of activation peaks was similar in both languages but Chinese character semantic processing was associated with a larger MR signal change. The semantic processing of Chinese characters, English words, and pictures activates a common semantic system within which there are modality-specific differences. The semantic processing of Chinese characters more closely resembles English words than pictures.
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